A Virginia man hopes to convince the state’s Supreme Court that he should legally be allowed to hang a noose to intimidate black people—if it’s on his own private property.
Jack Turner of Rocky Mount, Va., is in court this week hoping to overturn a conviction for breaking a Virginia state law that prohibits hanging a noose “in a manner having a direct tendency to place another person in reasonable fear or apprehension of death or bodily injury.” The law was passed in 2009.
In 2015, Turner was found to be in violation of that law when he, upset with his black neighbors, hung an effigy of a black man from a tree on his front lawn—in clear view of the street.
He doesn’t appear to dispute the facts of the case and has been unrepentant about his racism. In fact, after being convicted of violating the noose law—but before he was sentenced—Turner was arrested a second time for posting a sign on his lawn that read, “Nigger lives don’t matter. Got rope?”
Turner says that the law doesn’t apply to him because he hung his noose on private, not public, property. He also claims that punishing him for hanging a noose violates his First Amendment right to free speech.
As the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, Assistant Attorney General Christopher P. Schandevel, arguing the case for the state, told the court that Turner “does not have an absolute right to make a true threat on private property.” True threats are not considered protected speech by the First Amendment.
The Virginia Court of Appeals upheld Turner’s conviction for violating the noose law in 2016. Virginia’s Supreme Court judges questioned both sides of the appeal on Wednesday. It’s not known when they will deliver their ruling. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, New York, Connecticut and Louisiana have similar noose laws.
Read more at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.